Wilderness is a festival that brings the best things from town to the country – food, art, dance, theatre, craft and music all set within the undulating, ancient grounds of Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire.
Wilderness in many ways, is a grown-up festival for people with discerning tastes: from long table banqueting to sipping champagne in the lakeside spa, the focus is all about the appreciation of the finer things in life. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t know how to have fun: alongside these elements is every opportunity to get dressed up – preferably in feathers and sequins – watch a surrealist cricket match, learn to throw an axe or even marry your best friend as part of a mass fantasy wedding.
The Haus of Victorinox sits within Wilderness as a more contemplative space for making, creating and exploration. The structure, inspired by the mountains with its perfectly manicured back garden, roof of fresh flowers and façade made from silk swatches that flutter and catch the light, reflects a chilled, zen-like charm.
Over the course of the weekend, The Haus of Victorinox hosted a programme of workshops, offering festival-goers the opportunity to make something that would allow them to be better prepared for life’s everyday adventures. Tactile illustrator Kyle Bean led Tyvek paper wallet making workshops, whilst Swiss pocket knife expert Felix Immler empowered people with an idea that you can make your own fun – in this case a wooden boat – armed with just a few materials and some basic knowledge of how to (safely) wield a Victorinox knife. Mountaineer Kenton Cool orienteered the edges of the site with an enthusiastic team of volunteers – and there were queues out the door to make a sunglasses case out of luxurious leather with Bill Amberg Studio. All this creativity culminated in an inspiring weekend in the country, sharing the pleasure of the making something and learning how to make something useful.
Sara Blonstein – who’s collaborated with Victorinox over the last three years on the design and build of their installations – says it’s the grounds, together with the fact that it's primarily a food festival complemented with lots of other elements from craft, theatre to music that makes Wilderness so special. ‘People are obsessed with the chefs and I just love that food becomes craft and Victorinox becomes part of that craft,’ she says. ‘And people seem to let go here, it has a proper hippie vibe in a middle class way!’